The benefits of having a positive outlook on life have been well documented. Optimism can strengthen relationships, improve coping ability and protect your health.
People with a positive, optimistic outlook also have lower levels of inflammation and heart disease risk, according to research in the October 2011 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.
“When you think about it,” says Honolulu-based psychologist Dr. Caroline Sakai, “maintaining a positive attitude is common sense, and can profoundly affect your health.”
Indeed, older folks have a lot to contend with. According to Sakai frequent psychological concerns for seniors include stress, worry, anxiety, depression, pain management and sleep disturbances, among other issues.
A clinical therapist since 1966, Sakai practices a novel form of therapy called Callahan Techniques Thought Field Therapy.
The former chief psychologist at Kaiser Behavioral Medicine Serv-ices in Honolulu is the only Hawaii-based practitioner of Thought Field Therapy.
She teaches the technique to patients and other doctors at her private practice in Honolulu.
A senior citizen herself, she’s aware of the challenges faced by boomers as they approach the golden years. She offers classes designed for seniors to combat issues such as depression, stress, anxiety, anger and lack of focus.
How it works
Sakai says the techniques she offers are easy to learn. People gently tap themselves with their fingertips at certain places on the body known as meridian points in a prescribed sequence. Sakai likens the technique to acupuncture without the needles. While tapping, users focus on the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations they want to diminish, such as focusing on one’s anxiety and tightness in the chest.
Although the idea of tapping points on your body as a therapy for psychological issues may seem unusual, the technique is backed by studies cited in professional journals such as the Review of General Psychology, the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, the Journal of Clinical Psychology, and others.
Sakai interviews and examines each patient to develop a customized tapping routine developed to address their specific needs. For example, for anger issues, she employs a series of tapping movements at meridian points under the eyes, under the collarbone, on the side of the hand, she said.
She then supplies patients with a worksheet to guide them through the exercises at home.
Dr. Kelley Withy from the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine supports the use of Thought Field Therapy.
“This is a completely risk-free way to redirect our energies and decrease our stress, anger, depression, pain. I’ve seen it do wonders in people and employ it myself when stressed.”
Ultimately, Sakai says individuals are responsible for their own healthy and lifestyle practice. Optimizing restorative sleep, moving regularly with daily exercise and eating healthfully are all within one’s control.
Sakai also stresses the psychological importance of keeping touch with social contacts and maintaining purpose and meaning in life through volunteer work or helping others.